Growing increasingly frustrated with a manhunt for their fugitive governor, residents in the western Mexican state of Veracruz are posting to public buildings fliers that read "Wanted: Dead or Alive," in a manner reminiscent of a Sergio Leone spaghetti western.
Authorities believe that Javier Duarte fled the state more than a week ago, only days after announcing that he would take a leave of absence to address charges of corruption and links to organized crime.
In the state’s capital, Xalapa, citizens have posted old Western-style wanted posters in public buildings with the image of Duarte as a way to protest the inefficiency of Mexican prosecutors who issued the arrest warrant just a few days after he took a leave of absence from the job, allowing him to leave the state and probably the country.
The posters began appearing on public buildings in the state capital of Xalapa days after prosecutors announced last week that Duarte had fled and was considered a fugitive of justice. Both civilians and public figures – including the state's governor-elect, Miguel Angel Yunes – have appealed to law enforcement to take precautionary measures to prevent Duarte from fleeing, but none were taken.
Duarte was a close ally of President Enrique Peña Nieto and a former member of the ruling Revolutionary Institutional Party, or PRI, although his membership was nullified after investigators opened a corruption probe against him.
Prosecutors say Duarte embezzled or misspent as much as US$2 billion since he took office nearly six years ago. His administration is scheduled to end officially November 30 and auditors say he has left Veracruz with a public debt of US$583 million.
Meanwhile, the Mexican government has been the target a viral campaign on social media with millions of users directly accusing Peña Nieto of covering for his friend. Allegations of graft, disappearances, and murders of journalists and students, as well as austerity measures and neoliberal policies in education have left the Mexican president deeply unpopular.
At least 18 journalists have been murdered in Veracruz on Duarte's watch alone, combined with the discovery of hundreds of bodies in mass graves, a litany of human right violations, thousands of disappeared and hundreds of femicides. The chain of events represents a stunning downfall for a politician who Peña Nieto once hailed as a member of a new generation of politicians who were going to transform Mexico.